BACK ON THE HORSE THAT THREW ME

The horse that threw me

The horse that threw me

 

I’ve been writing a long time now. In 2002 when my children were small, I first dedicated time each day to a creative writing practice and used to spend naptime typing in a fury to complete a novel.

Since then my beautiful babies have grown into young adults and I’ve written another five full length manuscripts, one of which has been published.

Not for want of trying.

Much as I try to convince myself that rejections hurt less over time, it’s a lie and I know it.

The elephant hide I’ve tried so hard to develop has worn as thin as an old cotton sheet in places, tearing at the slightest tug. I’ve tried to chuck it all in, get a normal job like other people. But that hasn’t exactly gone to plan either.

I want to write. I still want to write. It’s how I make sense of the world. How my brain works best, what I enjoy most, get most satisfaction from, what I’m best at.

And so today, I’m dragging out the last half-baked rewrite of “Dear Madman” and seeing what I can salvage. If I can figure out how to give it the voice and form it longs for.

I’m scared of that horse, it’s big and fiery-eyed and stomping its hoofs. But I’m getting back on, goddamn it! I’m going to cling to its mane as it bucks and twists; it won’t throw me again. I’m going to ride it, as fast as I can, as far as I can, wind in my hair

Hang in there!

Mountain-Climbing-old lady

Mountain-Climbing-old lady

    Often writing and trying to get published successfully can seem like scaling the world’s tallest mountain. 

Writing as a career isn’t the easiest choice. If you have an option about whether to write or not, then don’t do it! But if, like me, everything you think  about is part of some greater story you’re compelled to write then take the following advice to heart. 

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

 Calvin Coolidge 

About eight years ago when I first started taking my writing seriously, this was the quote I had on my wall. The more I write, the more it rings true. I’ve seen better writers than me come and go from my writing group after finding it all too hard and quitting before they really gave themselves a chance. I’m no genius but I’m stubborn and I’ll persist and persist till I make it. 

I’m hanging in there for as long as it takes.   

“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”  William Feather  

mountain climber gripping rocks Hanging in there 

Remember the Australian ice-skater who won his gold medal because he was the only one left standing? That’ll be me, if it has to be. 

I know now this writing game takes time. My teacher Veny Armanno wrote a novel every year for ten years before his first book (short stories!) was published. My friend Katherine Howell had been writing for over ten years when she finally caught her break. 

Sometimes people get lucky. Very lucky. But I think for them the road ahead is just as difficult, though in a different way. Those of us who serve our apprenticeship in the unpublished wilderness are free to develop our skills without time pressures, editorial constraints and marketing requirements. We also grow hides as tough as horny rhinos. 

So you writers out there, frustrated at all the work you’re doing for little or no recognition or financial return, just keep writing. Our turns will come! Don’t give up now. 

  “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” 

 Thomas Edison 

mountain climber near summit

almost there

Don’t sit down in the snow and freeze. No matter how many times that story or novel has been rejected, go through it one more time. All this persistence means your skills are improving in leaps and bounds. Redraft. Resend. And hope for the best.  

Steven King’s Carrie was in the bin before his wife scooped it out and sent it off one last time. JK Rowling was rejected all over the place. They didn’t give up. They persisted. 

And so will we. 

Photo of excited woman mountain climber on the summit

made it!

PATIENCE AND PERSISTENCE

My latest fiction Ms is currently being considered by a wonderful agent at Cameron Creswell agency. Trouble is, though most publishers in Australia now won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, there aren’t enough agents yet to keep up with the ever-growing number of new writers. The piles of reading on the desks of those much sought after few are becoming unconquerable mountains, which leaves us writers waiting and waiting for what feels like years. Is this business designed to teach patience and persistence?